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Anna Maria Richardson Harkness (October 25, 1837 – March 27, 1926) was an American philanthropist.

Anna M. Harkness
BornOctober 25, 1837
DiedMarch 27, 1926(1926-03-27) (aged 88)
Resting placeLake View Cemetery
Stephen V. Harkness
(m. 1854; his death 1888)
ChildrenJennie Harkness
Charles W. Harkness
Florence Harkness
Edward Harkness


Early lifeEdit

Anna was born on October 25, 1837 in Dalton, Ohio,[1] and was the daughter of James Richardson and Anna (née Ranck) Richardson.[2] Not much is known about her early life.[3]

Married lifeEdit

On February 13, 1854, then sixteen year old Anna was married to the nineteen year old Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness, an early investor with John D. Rockefeller and became the second-largest shareholder in Standard Oil before his death in March 1888.[2] Stephen had previously been married to Laura Osborne, who died in August 1852, and with whom he had three children, only one of whom, Lamon V. Harkness, was living at the time of their marriage. Together, Anna and Stephen lived at his estate on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland (known as Millionaires' Row) were the parents of four more children, three of whom survived to adulthood:[2]

Her husband died aboard his yacht on March 6, 1888,[10] and was buried in Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery.[11] He left an estate valued at $150,000,000 (equivalent to $4,182,777,778 today) and Anna inherited one-third of his fortune at $50,000,000 (equivalent to $1,394,259,259 today), consisting primarily of stock in Standard Oil.[12]

In 1891, Anna moved to New York City, but continued to maintain a home in Willoughby, Ohio.[13] She died on March 27, 1926 at her home, 820 Fifth Avenue in New York City.[14] After a private funeral,[15] she was buried alongside her late husband in Lake View Cemetery.[11] At her death, she had already given away $40,000,000,[16] yet her wealth had increased to nearly $85,000,000 (equivalent to $1,202,941,729 today).[17]


Their first child, Jennie, died aged seven in 1864. After her death, the Harknesses erected and furnished a memorial pavilion at Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland as a memorial to her.[13][18] On July 29, 1895, within a year of Florence's marriage to Louis Severance, the former Treasurer of Standard Oil, their second daughter also died. Similarly, Anna and her son-in-law Louis donated the funds for the construction of the Florence Harkness Memorial Chapel at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.[19]

After her eldest son Charles died in 1916,[20] Anna gave $3,000,000 (equivalent to $58,667,532 today) to Yale University for the construction of Memorial Quadrangle in Charles' memory, including Harkness Tower, the most visible symbol of Yale on the New Haven skyline. Anna's portrait by Albert Herter is displayed in the dining hall of Saybrook College, part of the Memorial Quadrangle.[21] In 1920, she donated an additional $3,000,000 to Yale towards increases in faculty salaries.[22]

In October 1918, Anna established the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation dedicated to the improvement of healthcare with an initial gift of $10,000,000 (equivalent to $166,570,796 today).[23] Along with her son, Edward, the foundation made charitable gifts totaling more than $129 million, the equivalent of $2 billion in 2005 dollars, including funds for the establishment of the Harkness Fellowships, the construction of St. Salvator's Hall at the University of St Andrews, the Butler Library at Columbia University, and many of the undergraduate dormitories at Harvard and Yale Universities (known as "houses" and "residential colleges," respectively).[24] The fund was also a major benefactor of the Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes, the Museum of Natural History in New York, the New York Zoological Society and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it established the Museum's collection of ancient Egyptian art.[17] The Harkness Pavilion at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University Medical Center is also named for the family.[2]


  1. ^ "Anna M. Richardson Harkness | American philanthropist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e James, Edward T.; James, Janet Wilson; Boyer, Paul S.; College, Radcliffe (1971). Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Harvard University Press. p. 134. ISBN 9780674627345. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  3. ^ Journal of Presbyterian History, Vol. 52. 1974. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  4. ^ "C. W. HARKNESS. OF STANDARD OIL, DIES; Third Largest Holder, with Brother, of Company's Stock a Victim of Apoplexy at 56. A DIRECTOR IN RAILWAYS Member of Many Clubs and Owner of the Yacht Agawa Was Educated for a Lawyer" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 May 1916. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  5. ^ Western Reserve Historical Society Publication. 1917. p. 17. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  6. ^ "C.W. HARKNESS LEFT $170,000,000 ESTATE; Standard Oil Holdings to Brother, Edward S., Make Him Third Largest Holder. $500,000 BEQUEST TO YALE Presbyterian Hospital Gets $350,000 ;- Widow and Brother Share Residuary Estate" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 May 1916. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Edward S. Harkness Dies at 66; Gave $100,000,000 to the Public; Devoted His Lifetime to Distributing Vast Wealth of His Family to Educational and Welfare Organizations" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 January 1940. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  8. ^ "EDWARD STEPHEN HARKNESS" (PDF). The New York Times. 31 January 1940. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  9. ^ "MRS. E.S. HARKNESS DEAD AT AGE OF 75; Widow of Financier Continued His Policy of Giving Aid to Health and Education ALSO WAS PATRON OF ARTS Her Husband Donated to Public Causes at Least $100,000,000 and She Added to This Was Married in 1904 Some of Her Donations" (PDF). The New York Times. 7 June 1950. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  10. ^ "DIED ON BOARD HIS YACHT" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 March 1888. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b "MRS. HARKNESS'S FUNERAL.; Simple Service Held for Philanthropist In Fifth Avenue Home" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 March 1926. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  12. ^ Kiger, Joseph C. (2011). Philanthropists and Foundation Globalization. Transaction Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 9781412809566. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b "HARKNESS, ANNA M. (RICHARDSON)". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History | Case Western Reserve University. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  14. ^ "MRS. HARKNESS, YALE BENEFACTOR, IS DEAD". Hartford Courant. 28 March 1926. p. 1. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Private Funeral Service for Mrs. S. V. Harkness". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 29 Mar 1926. p. 3. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  16. ^ Shaw, Sondra C.; Taylor, Martha A. (1995). Reinventing fundraising: realizing the potential of women's philanthropy. Jossey-Bass Publishers. p. 24. ISBN 9780787900502. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  17. ^ a b "MRS. HARKNESS BUILT $50,000,000 ESTATE UP TO $85,000,000; Inventory Reveals the Great Increase in Fortune She Inherited From Husband. $16,000,000 INHERITANCE TAX Most of Huge Holdings Were in Gilt-Edge Securities -- Son Gets About $60,000,000. SHE GAVE MUCH TO CHARITY When St. Paul Bonds Slumped She Recalled Them as Gifts and Gave Good Ones in Return. HARKNESS ESTATE UP TO $85,000,000". The New York Times. 17 October 1926. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  18. ^ "HOSPITAL RECEIVES NEW HARKNESS GIFT; $250,000 From Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness Completes the Fund for Nurses' School. HAS DONATED $800,000 Plans for the Edifice Are Now in the Hands of Architect -- Entire Building Fund is $3,704,297" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 July 1925. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Florence Harkness Memorial Chapel". Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  20. ^ "CHAS. W. HARKNESS LEFT AN ESTATE OF $60,000,000; Tax Appraisal Shows Oil Financier Was One of the World's Richest Men. UP $15,000,000 SINCE DEATH Began as a Young Man, Lately Out of School, with $1,500,000 Inherited from Father. HELD LITTLE REAL ESTATE Fortune Nearly All in Stocks and Bonds -- Died 15 Days Before State Tax Was Advanced. C.W. HARKNESS LEFT $60,000,000 ESTATE". The New York Times. 8 December 1916. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Mrs. Stephen Vanderburg Harkness (Anna Maria Richardson) (1837-1926) (After Benjamin Curtis Porter) | Yale University Art Gallery". Yale University Art Gallery. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  22. ^ Reports Made to the President of Yale University. By Yale University. President's Office, (1921).
  23. ^ "Anna M. Harkness | Founder". Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  24. ^ "$2,009,685 GRANTED FOR HEALTH WORK; Commonwealth Fund's Awards Covered Research, Education and Public Health $135,000 FOR WAR RELIEF Report Says Difficulty Lies in Aiding Nazi-Occupied Lands but Not Germany". The New York Times. 20 January 1941. Retrieved 15 July 2017.

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